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NEXT Foundation Invests in Large Conservation Project

NEXT Foundation Invests in Large Conservation Project

An ambitious new conservation project aiming to be one of the largest biodiversity restoration projects of its kind in New Zealand is getting a giant boost.

NEXT Foundation Chair Chris Liddell announced today an investment in Project Taranaki Mounga, which aims to transform the ecology of Egmont National Park over the next twenty years, and permanently thereafter.

Selected from more than 100 applications submitted this year to NEXT Foundation's $100m programme, Liddell says Project Taranaki Mounga can be transformative on a large scale, regenerating New Zealand’s native birdlife in the Taranaki region.

NEXT Foundation has committed funding for its share of an initial 18-month phase of the long term project alongside the Department of Conservation (DOC). The project aims to develop partnerships with DOC, iwi, the Taranaki community, local councils and the region’s private sector. It will begin with pest control and the ecological restoration of over 34,000 hectares of Egmont National Park and the associated offshore islands.

“At NEXT Foundation we believe one of the most important factors determining New Zealand’s future success is our land and our environment,” said Liddell. “Project Taranaki Mounga has the potential to push further the boundaries of large-scale ecological restoration and serve as a significant step towards a predator-free New Zealand.”

By securing the area from pests and restoring its wildlife and biological diversity, the project will allow threatened and vulnerable birds, bats, plants, fish and invertebrates to flourish. In the future, a “biodiversity halo” around the mountain will help buffer the Park from pest reinvasion.

“More than 25 million native birds are killed across New Zealand by predators each year, threatening the survival of native species, and causing irreversible damage to our environment. We’re excited to support the initial phase of this project with the objective of combining the efforts of business, government, iwi and the community to have a huge positive impact on one of our iconic landmarks,” said Liddell.

Project Taranaki Mounga is the next step in NEXT Foundation’s evolution of establishing models of large scale environmental conservation in New Zealand. The project follows on from the success of NEXT Foundation related investments in Rotoroa Island and Project Janszoon and builds on the innovation and technologies developed by the Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) programme which was founded by NEXT Foundation, last December.

“New Zealand has been losing biodiversity for a very long time and we have not been able to stem the decline despite all the efforts of communities, DOC and many other committed people,” says NEXT Foundation environment adviser Devon McLean, who also chairs Predator Free New Zealand, and manages Project Janszoon, a privately funded 30 year ecological restoration of Abel Tasman National Park. We need to operate at scale, keeping our birds and land safe for a long period of time so they can build themselves up again.”

“This project is an opportunity for the community to get involved in the active restoration of the park, and toward a common goal of a predator-free New Zealand.”

Director General of Conservation Lou Sanson says this is a case of private philanthropy, iwi, local Government and a progressive community joining together to protect our nature for the future.

“This ground breaking conservation initiative not only has significant returns for the mountain, the whenua and the wildlife, but will also have on-going spin offs for regional tourism, environmental education and the Taranaki economy."

Formed last year, NEXT Foundation has already made large grants to education and the environment following a rigorous due diligence process where applicants have to demonstrate transformational scale, sustainability and excellent leadership.


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